Friday, May 13, 2016

Re-tired (Michellin City Grip tires)

Tires wear out. It's an unfortunate reality of vehicle ownership. For those of us on two wheels, it is important to know that motorcycle tires wear out faster than automobile or truck tires. This is due primarily to the way motorcycle tires sit on the road. They have a much smaller contact area with the road surface than do automotive tires. The composition of the rubber will also affect longevity of the tire. To add insult to injury, the rear tire on a motorcycle or scooter wears out even faster than the front due to weight distribution and the simple fact that the rear tire is the one delivering power to the road.

The stock Dunlop on the rear of my Honda had been showing signs of wear for a while and last week, the rubber finally got down to the wear indicators. For those who aren't aware, many motorcycle tires will have a bit of raised rubber inside the tread (toward the middle of the tire generally) that is used to indicate when the tires should be replaced. When the tire is worn to the point that the wear indicator is even with the surface of the tire, it's time for a new one and so it was for me. The PCX had 6,070 miles on it when the tire was changed.

I did a bit of research prior to making a purchase and it seems that many other Honda PCX owners have been happy with the Michelin City Grip, and since it was more in line with my budget than an $80 Pirelli, it got the nod. Lancaster Honda ordered the tire for me and I picked it up last Friday. Getting the tire to school proved to be less complicated than I had originally presumed it would be. I was able to simply strap it to my backpack and ride in on the Honda with a spare on my back.

Installing the tire was a bit of a struggle. The physical proportions of most scooter wheels make them difficult to work with. They tend to be thin and small in diameter and in the case of the PCX wheel, I had to get the bead breaker in just the right place, at just the right angle to get the old tire free of the rim and the fit of both the new and old tires was decidedly tight, which can be attributed to the dinky size of the wheel rim.

Once the new tire was on the rim, it was a simple matter to get it back on the scoot, and time to take it  out for a spin. Something to keep in mind when riding a new tire, the compound can be very slippery until it has been scuffed in a bit. With this solidly in my mind, I was cautious around the first few corners but soon realized that the Michelin's name was not amiss. That skinny little tire gripped on the corners better than the previous Dunlop ever had. The PCX feels much more sure footed and I'm able to get a slightly better lean angle without feeling Like the scoot is going to slip out from underneath me.

The real test of the new tire would be rain. How would it hold up in the wet? Despite my distaste for wet weather riding, the only way to know how the tire would perform is to test it in real world conditions. So today I rode the Honda to school with full knowledge that thunderstorms were on their way. I'd prayed for a dry ride home without really expecting such, but it just so happened that the massive belt of thunderstorms finished its assault on York just as I was putting my rain gear on. When I went outside, the sun was glistening off the wet pavement.

At the suggestion of my instructor and a classmate, I took a new route to work through the hills. I tried to take a video, but only got a short snippet. The larger video did not save. Oh well, such is life. I can say though that the Michelin City Grip tire stuck to the road like glue. Even when I stopped at an intersection and nearly fell over since my boots had no grip, the scoot didn't skitter at all taking off from a stop. Cornering in the rain was very good without any hint of slip and if you look at the map I've included below, you'll see that there are quite a few twists and turns on the route.

So, I'd say the Michelin City Grip lives up to its reputation as a grippy scooter tire. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.


Robert Wilson said...

I also use the City Grips on my bike (Kymco 500) and don't see going to another tire anytime soon. They seem to be built for scooters and hold the road well.

kz1000st said...

I've been chasing the best dollar per mile formula for scooters for years. Since the weight distribution compromises scooter handling, cornering capability is strictly a hypothetical factor compared to a motorcycle. What's important to me on a scooter is how long do they last? I know which tire will last longest on a Helix clone, a Pricey Bridgestone. Now I'm experimenting with cheaper tires to see which one lasts longest versus price. The search continues.

Jackie Hensick said...

Love using that brand for my scooter!